Without a watch, it was tough to know how long the voyage by air actually took. Geenie didn’t care. She was more concerned with the whereabouts rather than how far away she was from any danger, or even noise. She was standing and watching Jack from afar. The airport was basically a small version; practically an airstrip. Looking around more when she let her eyes adjust more, she realized in fact it actually looked like nothing else but an airstrip. Despite its size, it was plenty noisy. Then again, Geenie never heard the true sound of a plane large or small except from the inside of it. This was a whole new experience.
Standing what seemed far away, but probably much closer than she realized, she watched from a safe distance while Jack took a little extra time discussing whatever topics seemed somewhat important to be with the pilot with a still running plane. They were less than a hundred feet away but the constant sounds being right on the seemingly makeshift type of runway made things most difficult.
Despite her still drowsy state, Eugenie was trying to study the two men or at least how they interacted. The did not appear to be friends but somehow have something in common if they can keep up bantering that way. It was also a rare time Geenie had to observe Jack and how he held himself. Most of this is with Jack right along side or when he was away, there was some sort of distraction keeping Geenie away. She still wasn’t sure what to think of him, but he seemed to always have a favorable shred in him no matter the interaction.
Eventually Jack made his way back towards Geenie. If she wasn’t thankful, her ears sure were. Jack tried to say something about asking if she was ok, but the plane crossed past their area; severely hampering and other nearby sound. He repeated, “How are you holding up?”
Geenie nodded while trying to warm herself up by rubbing between her elbows and shoulders. Between the cloud cover and the chill in the air, she couldn’t even tell the time of day. She figured at this point they still haven’t officially hit morning due to the lack of activity.
Jack took a few steps towards the direction of the plane they just caught their flight on. She followed behind him and then veered towards a structure in the distance which she assumed was the main building.
With her head down to stop some of the rushing wind, “Where are we?” Noticing the vanishing of hearing his footsteps in the gravelly dirt as well as no response at all, she turned back and saw Jack stopped.
The plan already made a turn on the runway. Geenie let her eyes follow Jack and he watched the plane center up on one side of the runway and build up velocity. It suddenly pulled up and sent a roar across these two on the ground, and also another rip of wind current. Jack thought he could take the dry and cold air, but he had to finally shield his face haphazardly while trying to watch the plane start it’s trajectory away from he and Geenie.
“Where are we?” She could feel the cold when her mouth opened wider to project her voice just above the sound of the departing plane.
He took some steps before talking. She jogged a few steps before catching back up to him and easily meeting his stride.
“Here here, or where here?”
She heard him finally, but had no clue what he awkwardly meant. “Anything. I don’t care.” If Jack was going to whisk her off somewhere for an unknown reason, she felt the polite thing to do was at least give a general idea where she ended up.
Jack walked a little further and things suddenly had a stillness except for these two in motion. He was a little out of breath from the cold air. It was apparent they weren’t dressed for the occasion. “You ok?” It was more to give him a chance to get a look at Geenie.
“Good enough for right this second I guess…”
He was afraid maybe the cold was too much for their pace. Since she seemed less winded than him for the moment, he decided to keep walking.
“Up here… I don’t know how far, but there’s a road… it’s called Coleman.” Eking out, “Not supposed to be able to miss it.”
“Do you know this place?”
“Not really,” as he let out a loud cough as a practical sounding punctuation mark. “Don’t want to to either… Well… You know.”
“Is this even a real place?”
“A real what?”
“You know,” as she came to a stop out of slight indignation. “A real airport.”
“Yeah…” He came to a stop and begrudgingly walked back towards Geenie. He was not angry with her, but more the fact he wasn’t holding up in this weather which could be considered mild for the locals. “But we better get moving. Besides… It will keep our body heat up a bit, you know?”
“So where are we right this second?” She stared right at him with a more quizzical than angry type of expression.
“We’re in West Point-”
The mix of glare and puzzlement in Geenie’s face was enough to warn Jack to rethink and restart his answer. Any further confusion might irreparably harm Geenie’s furrowed brow.
“It’s not what you think,” as he briefly lifted his hands in a slightly defensive motion.
“We’re in Oregon, just as I said.” Feeling his hands becoming numb from the air, he slid them deep into his pockets and tried not to move his legs to improve circulation. “West Point is a private airstrip in Oregon.”
Geenie wasn’t too proper to shift her legs to try to get used to the temperature. She also didn’t have the advantage of long pants like Jack. “In Eugene,” she added to his statement – more as an acknowledgment she remembered an earlier conversation.
“Not exactly. We ran into some trouble. Well more just circumstances. This was where we ended up instead. For the moment,” he trailed a second since she seemed to have something to say.
He voice was not as much anger as it was curiosity and for the sake of just having the urge to know surroundings. So much has been upturned, it would be nice to just be able to picture the name of somewhere no matter how large or small. “Are we supposed to be here?”
“Not quite. West Point is an airport technically. It’s called West Point Airport, but it’s more of a private airstrip really.” Jack stepped his pace back up hoping to keep out of sight from the property owners, but also to keep up with making it where he already mentioned.
“Are you saying we’re stranded right now somewhere in the middle of Oregon, or somewhere else even?”
“We’re not so-” he panted a bit and tried putting on a brave face while hoofing it a bit faster. His footsteps and breathing were all he could focus on. He thought he heard Geenie asking something. It might have been about him, but he tried to block how uncomfortable he felt at that point. “Like I said-” Waiting to talk as a staggering of breaths, “We shouldn’t be.. So far away. It’s-” A few second later, “It’s called… Coleman. Coleman Road.” It didn’t seem to be any sort of incline, but Jack’s legs were feeling as if it was true. His calves were practically frozen and he felt throbbing in them. Any other time, he could be as heroic as it came for a guy to use brains over brawn and be in decent shape – but it seems this weather was his weakness. Feeling a sense of freezing at his extremities and his hair was getting damp at the same time. His face was reddening rapidly as well, but it was not certain if from the nip of the cold or the heat he was exuding to make this seemingly slow trek.
Trying to turn his head to the side and see Geenie almost like a swimmer flipping his head to the side to take a deep breath. “You ok there?”
“Don’t worry about me. Are you ok?”
It seemed almost laughable to think he was trying to play it casually in the state he was. A part of his back started collecting sweat and most of his collar could be felt with water against his neck, but he plugged on and thought he was doing his part to look after Geenie; even though she was doing far better keeping the pace.
“It should be just up ahead. The first road you can see. Well… The first real one.”
Geenie kept an eye out to make sure they didn’t miss this road which is was pretty obvious Jack never saw. It seemed Jack was doing his best to talk comfortingly; such as to a person who does not know his or her time is not long in this world. If they kept this up, it seems Geenie would outdistance Jack by far in these conditions. Just in case there were discrepancies in these direction, she was looking at every tiny dirt path or private drive through the course of this walk. She figured they probably weren’t out as long as it seemed and being all alone with no sense of time passing plays a lot of tricks. For the sake of Jack, she hoped this road really was named Coleman and also not just some tiny unmarked strip of dirt people just know by name and as a real road.
“That’s it I think.” He took another puff of the cold outdoor air which felt almost like poison but he needed in order to keep from passing out entirely. Keeping a brave face, he didn’t want to fail at whatever it was he figured he had to do as long as Geenie was concerned. He didn’t want to show any weakness, but at this point he was doing his best just to minimize it. It was much less externally than what was happening inside of him. His lungs constricted and gripped from not only his breathing but the cold air. This oxygen stung with each breath while his lungs felt as if shrinking; stretching less and less with each breath. He was almost at some sort of breaking point until his eyes caught something up ahead. It forced him to stop – bringing Geenie in front of him; wrought with concern.
“What’s wrong. Are you ok?”
“Yeah,” with a literal chin up attitude while he nodded upwards indicating Geenie should turn the other way. “I think that’s the road. Why… Go on up ahead. Scout-”
“No, I want to-”
“Trust me. I’ll catch up. It has,” rubbing his side from a pang that quickly grabbed him somewhere between his stomach and left lung. “It has to be the road. Go on up ahead. I’ll meet you, I promise.”
“Are you sure?”
“I haven’t lied to you yet. It’s… Just go on ahead and I’ll be there. I’ll- I’ll tell you more in a minute.” Jack stumbled back a few steps from a violent coughing outburst. The sound was stifled to an almost raspy whisper despite Jack not covering the sound and having his mouth wide open.
“Why don’t you at least let me take your bag and I’ll go ahead and wait.”
Jack coughed out a negatory type statement. “No, it’s not tha-” Shaking his head slightly, “Don’t worry. It’s not heavy. I’m… Just check it out please… Please, Geenie.”
She didn’t know what exactly to do, but decided to obey his words. It was true, he hasn’t lied to her yet – even though it seemed he hasn’t always been so forthright about divulging information either. Maybe it was to protect Geenie, or maybe it was just his reporter background to keep cards close to his hand. It wasn’t time to deliberate, so Geenie felt out of her own version of instinct it was best to listen. She hasn’t been led astray yet. Hopefully Coleman Road wouldn’t be where that streak broke.
Geenie stood at this first major road that intersected. Fortunately it did have a post for her to keep from chasing down the road. It was in fact Coleman Road. A two lane street that looked very modern compared to the path they had been traveling. This was a real street and it seemed; pun aside; to be a place set up for larger traffic. She could hear sounds of civilization so to speak. A whooshing sound made by cars passing from afar. She thought she could see lights of some sort coming from sporadic cars in the west, but she did not pay much attention; much less know her sense of direction. Geenie basically just knew left, right, forward, backward. She say the sign said Coleman and nobody was around. She didn’t want to mess anything up so stood in place and wandered around.
She wasn’t the type who was fond of travel. Actually, Geenie never really did traveling at all; much less sit and think whether she liked it or not. Being a sort of a homebody type means (for the most part) being content. Geenie did want a college experience, but she never thought backpacking across the European countryside was a fulfilling way to spend a summer vacation back then.
All of this means Geenie can at least appreciate a change of scenery. Being on her own could instill some sort of time for reflection. In a way, her mind was far from anywhere it might have needed to be. Instead, most of her brain was focused on the here and now. She took a look and admired what surroundings she found herself in. Aside from the few houses and structures here and there, it looked very serene and peaceful in its own right.
When trying to compare it, Geenie was reminded of the really calm artist on public broadcasting that could create a seemingly entire world in the span of less then a half hour. All of them she saw were very pastoral rural or country settings; most every time with just a touch of civilization but nothing to infiltrate the unspoiled wilderness by much. He could always keep some sort of pristine setting even though there would be the faintest touch of mankind. Most of the time becoming a trademark inflection on so many ‘happy’ elements, explaining in the calmest way as he performed his techniques as effortlessly as drawing a stick figure.
Oftentimes while watching, Geenie would think about trying to learn from this ever so calm maestro and learning some of the basic elements of the art of painting, but any thoughts or presumed aspirations would float away after a couple of hours just as effortlessly as the ‘happy little clouds’ which sparsely found their ways into one of those many landscapes.
It has been years since Geenie watched an episode of this rudimentary show’s recordings, but it brought everything back to her for a moment. She admired the surroundings and saw how closely some of the painted trees resembled what she was witnessing now. The way the tree lines stacked layer upon layer on the side of tall hills; haphazard rings forming random highs and lows. Geenie was probably imagining it, but she could almost hear the sound of the air, or just an audio cue of the scene.
Maybe it wasn’t so much her imagination at all. She was so busy trying to focus her eyes beyond the darkness to make out the surroundings. The sound rose slowly and it snapped Geenie out of the moment; causing her to turn around.
To her happiness, Geenie saw Jack almost in front of her now. His figure tried to stay upright but moved at an almost crawling pace. She didn’t realize how easily the landscape carried her off and got her lost in the moment. It felt bad to know she forgot about Jack in what looked like a desperate moment, but she also needed that escape at the same time to recharge her spirit. She had no idea how long it had been since was told to scout ahead and make sure they were at the desired road. To a similar note, she forgot all about the temperature and how inappropriately she was dressed for this state. It all came back to her at this moment, as vividly as ever. The chill rushed all the way past her and ‘through the bone’ as the idiom sometimes states. Geenie could feel goose pimples pop up suddenly when she realized where she was. The air seemed still at this moment (aside from the sounds of Jack) but it felt like a breeze cut through her body though her hair stood in place. Suddenly she called out, not knowing what to say.
“Are you ok?” The volume wasa bit more than she bargained for, and heard an echo bounce which is a unique feature of being in a early desolate area.
Jack didn’t say a word. Instead, he tried to hold an assumed deliberately slowed pace until he finally got to Geenie; within almost whispering distance. They both stood in silence as Jack’s breathing slowed just a bit; showing signs of recovery.
Breaking the silence was a voice of concern. “What happened? Are you ok?”
“This is it. Right?” He seemed to already know but needed to come up with some sort of banter to at least prove a lack of concern. He took a look up at the sign almost painfully, getting the answer and ceasing the conversation.
“Come on. What happened back there,” with more concern than she showed thus far.
“No. Don’t worry about it.” His body still a bit reddened and forehead glistening as he tried to wipe and sweat underneath his hairline. “ Now we just have to-” Taking another breath, “Just wait it out.”
His confidence seemed to start returning. Geenie tried to play it off as no biggie since it seemed Jack had a reason not to delve into the topic or accept her concern. Instead, she let him be the person to say something. Even though he was in front of her, she tried to let it look like something else in the distance caught her eye. She tried not to count the time passing when waiting the minute or so for him to start his dialog back up.
“Now we just wait.”
“Wait for what?”
“To get out of this place.”
After a pause, “-which is not Eugene.” Geenie was more curious than interrogating. A part of Jack intrigued her and she sort of liked ‘going along for the ride’ at this point; figuratively or literally. It still didn’t trump her wanting to know a little bit about her surroundings in case something majorly bad was to happen. Even if the geographic location wouldn’t help much in the long run, it would still be comforting for the moment.
“Here? Yes, no.” Trying to recover the sentence, “I mean, we’re in Coburg. It’s just ten miles away or so according to the pilot. Getting to Eugine that is.”
“Do you know the pilot?”
“Not exactly,” as he kicked the sole of one of his shoe against the side of the other shoe to try to knock an annoying piece of gravel out. “But we sort of run in the same circles I suppose you could say.”
“If he was willing to land a plane illegally to help us out, I’d say he is kind of a friend. Don’t you think so?”
“Well, I guess we are both on the same side of the cause. The good fight and all of that jazz.” He tried to laugh but it dwindled into a cough. Jack caught the look on Geenie’s face and finally realized she did seem to care about him. “Don’t worry. I’m fine.”
She made a slight wince as if she gave away the cards she was holding by a devastating tell. Looking away, she could get back to her train of thought. “Was it because of me?”
“Just don’t worry about it, really.” It was an obvious deflection but he wasn’t at his wittiest at the moment. “We just have to wait for our ticket to Eugene.”
“Did you arrange it, like the plane?”
“Well. Kind of. I mean, I know I needed transportation. But, the pilot said he knew someone.”
Geenie wasn’t sure what to say about it. She usually wasn’t the person to comment on a glass being half empty or half full. She would just wonder who the drinker of the glass was rather than how much was left (or wasn’t). “Well… If you trust the pilot. Then I won’t be worried about it either.” Smiling to herself, “It’s not like there’s anyone out here to bother us anyway.”
“That’s for sure. It’s not too creepy or anything for you, is it?” He seemed to finally breath regularly. And the seemingly easy coming wit was returning to his words, just as the proper completion to his face.
Thrusting slightly forward to try pushing her hands deeper into the shallow pockets on her dress, “No not really. I guess I didn’t think about it. It’s too cold for anything to be creepy.”
“You got that right,” Jack got out before laughing out something sounding like a half sneeze. This was one of the moments he felt time practically stopped. Not caring about the time, he tried to look casual. “But I figure I’d trust him. Not that I have a choice.” He tried to keep his face smiling despite his closed mouth; causing the corners to slightly upturn. He was too young for wrinkles, but try indentations of his closed mouth showed a bit where furrows might one day crop from.
At that point, just enough time passed for the sky to ease up and let out a little more viability. Looking to their left, a sound approached and they made out the outline of a vehicle; the first one to come down this road. Its lights turned on and nearly blinded Jack and Geenie. In a sense it was the first sign of the modern world since they left the airplane.
“Do you think that’s for us?” She kept her voice low as if the vehicle had sensitive feelings.
“I guess we’ll find out.” They watched and saw it speed closer, then the engine cut out. The small bits of moisture and small pebbles and tiny pock marks on the road causing the wheels to make a smashing and gripping sound all at the same time. It glides off to the side and reveals itself as not just a cab or dark car, but a limousine.
Geenie and Jack Took a few fast steps back in fear of the car sideswiping them while coasting with the quick turn. The vehicle corrected itself and made a faint skidding sound against the small rocks and dirt, sounding like a terse growl while it makes a complete stop; almost perfectly parallel between its rear door and the awaiting couple.
“Didn’t know we were heading to the prom.” Smiling to add, “At least you have a dress for it.”
She didn’t have a reaction at all, even though she wanted to comment to some capacity – laughing at the comment or uttering the ‘what the heck’ sort of feeling inside her mind. Geenie never rode inside a limo for any occasion. Her marriage might have been the first time, but that notion obviously didn’t last too long. She admired the shininess amidst her puzzled feeling. The black finish was waxed or polished to give an almost dark chrome-like reflection of the surroundings. The amber lighted segments aglow; separating one set of windows in the back seat from the rest. She was astonished by how loud this limousine was despite being completely still. A generator or something working. It made a rushing sound and whirring all at the same time. She hasn’t heard anything quite like it she could recall.
The door opened and a man in a suit stepped around. It wasn’t as impeccable as the stereotypical limo driver seen in a boilerplate movie with a chauffeur’s cap and white gloves speaking with a proper grammatical cadence and a slightly regal accent. Instead this guy wore dark pants and a dress shirt covered by an open sports coat. He was moderate in height and had slightly short hair which looked like small black waves while gelled in place – like tiny twists from front to back, almost like a current of a sparse sea. He had a slight tan and no gloves. He also wore ratted hightops which were probably more colorful in the past, but that time is long gone. His smile was a mix of nervousness and hoping his slight bit of decorum was enough for these two. It seems he was walking in just as blindly as the two waiting on Coleman Road.
“So- uh,. I take it you are who I’m looking for?”
Geenie figured it was best to stay mum. She wasn’t the type to easily make small talk, which could be a reason her friend base was small to say the least. She was very comfortable with knowing how capable Jack was in times like this.
“Yes. I would certainly hope so.” He flashed a tired grin. Jack seemed to have a small dosage of trepidation or apprehension while showing a small bit of hospitality without looking too appreciative.
“Yeah. I guess.” This driver looked to be trying very hard without having a clue. In a way it reminded Geenie of how Jack seemed at first. She never would have given him the time of day in any other circumstance. Geenie wasn’t the type to try sizing up people, or even claim to be good at it whatsoever, but she also didn’t have any sense of danger at this moment. It was more like this driver was an awkward teen coming to pick up his date rather than commanding this dark ship in the slowly lifting night sky of Oregon.
“So,” with a slight lift of his eyebrows when asking. Waiting for another second to pass, “I don’t know about you, but we aren’t really equipped for this kind of weather.
A light push of wind cut between the two of them, emphasizing the point with almost perfect timing.
“So… Yeah.” Pulling his hand out of his pocket, “I’m. Well, you can call me Dee. I’m kind of driving for you obviously.”
Jack pulls his hand out and decides to cough instead; curling his hand like a fist to let the dry hack out into. Then after opening his hand, he pats it once against the left sleeve of the driver. “Thanks. We both appreciate it.”
The man pulls away with an almost forced grin. “Oh yeah, sorry.” He moved to the right of Jack and Geenie before grabbing onto the door’s handle. “I can promise you it’s a lot nicer inside. But I can always hike up the heater if you need a little bit more.”
Opening of the door of the limo immediately welcomed Geenie and Jack. They could feel the warmth billow out; like the coziest of cottages with a perfectly controlled fire spilling out from the hearth. In all honesty, even the fires of hades would be a more inviting feeling after their stint outside and in the wrong garb no less.
Doing his best to be as much a gentleman as possible, Jack took a step back to let Geenie have access first. The driver seemed to know better than to help her inside, and instead stood at attention and waiting similar to a Buckingham guard. Due to the circumstance, he defensively kept the limo’s door in front of him. Not knowing the best way to enter – and her legs almost totally numb from the outdoors – she took a step to the elevated area and stumbled. Jack went for her and sort of held her as her hand went against one of the seats.
Without letting go, Jack spoke with just enough volume to let Geenie hear. “Take your time.” She gave a slight nod and took a second to steady herself. Not wanting a replay, she got on her knees and did a bit of a shimmy to get all the way inside. Nobody in her presence was judging in the least. Geenie pulled herself upwards and slumped wearily into the back rows of seats.
Jack knew he was every bit as weary as Geenie. He slid the bag from his shoulders and tossed it onto the floor; causing it to slide a slight bit as the material scraped the wooden floor. He took both hands and gripped the same seat Geenie sat in- yanking himself and using the momentum to thrust him up. It may have been more as intended since not only did he land on the back row, but slid across; colliding against Geenie.
The door clomped shut; making a tight seal from the outside. Jack intended to apologize, but it didn’t seem like much of a big deal to her. He intended to give her some space and slide over a bit… She seemed content how it was. Jack adjusted so his back was flush against the seat and made sure this time to buckle up the safety belt.
Without warning, the driver cranked on the starter and forced the engine to get louder. He stomped the gas and made a slight but sharp turn to the left to get back onto the road and not get the tires stuck. The motion slid Geenie firmly into Jack; more so since she didn’t bother to buckle in. Out of instinct, Jack moved his left arm around to make sure Geenie didn’t succumb to the same fate he did when the plane lifted off so much earlier. He worried a bit, but she barely seemed to mind. Instead, she leaned in a little closer towards Jack once she felt his arm across her shoulder.
Once again, the driver spoke. It sounded a little distant and echoed throughout the inside of the limosuine. “Sorry you guy. Hold on tight for a sec.”
Jerking the wheel again, the driver swung the vehicle around to make a u-turn which didn’t seem like such a good idea. The tires rolled and squealed as Geenie once again pushed against Jack. Staying in place, he used his left arm to hug her a little closer and keep her from going anywhere. Going a little bit limp, Geenie let her face press in towards Jack’s chest. She wasn’t even probably thinking about it or aware, but she didn’t seem to mind it at all for the moment.
It wasn’t anything Jack intended on happening either, but he also felt comfortable at this moment too; with her.